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Archive for the ‘Word Faith’ Category

from Got Questions:

In the prosperity gospel, also known as the “Word of Faith,” the believer is told to use God, whereas the truth of biblical Christianity is just the opposite—God uses the believer. Word of Faith or prosperity theology sees the Holy Spirit as a power to be put to use for whatever the believer wills. The Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is a Person who enables the believer to do God’s will. The prosperity gospel movement closely resembles some of the destructive greed sects that infiltrated the early church. Paul and the other apostles were not accommodating to or conciliatory with the false teachers who propagated such heresy. They identified them as dangerous false teachers and urged Christians to avoid them.

Paul warned Timothy about such men in 1 Timothy 6:5, 9-11. These men of “corrupt mind” supposed godliness was a means of gain and their desire for riches was a trap that brought them “into ruin and destruction” (v. 9). The pursuit of wealth is a dangerous path for Christians and one which God warns about: “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (v. 10). If riches were a reasonable goal for the godly, Jesus would have pursued it. But He did not, preferring instead to have no place to lay His head (Matthew 8:20) and teaching His disciples to do the same. It should also be remembered that the only disciple concerned with wealth was Judas.

Paul said covetousness is idolatry (Ephesians 5:5) and instructed the Ephesians to avoid anyone who brought a message of immorality or covetousness (Ephesians 5:6-7). Prosperity teaching prohibits God from working on His own, meaning that God is not Lord of all because He cannot work until we release Him to do so. Faith, according to the Word of Faith doctrine, is not submissive trust in God; faith is a formula by which we manipulate the spiritual laws that prosperity teachers believe govern the universe. As the name “Word of Faith” implies, this movement teaches that faith is a matter of what we say more than whom we trust or what truths we embrace and affirm in our hearts.

A favorite term in the Word of Faith movement is “positive confession.” This refers to the teaching that words themselves have creative power. What you say, Word of Faith teachers claim, determines everything that happens to you. Your confessions, especially the favors you demand of God, must all be stated positively and without wavering. Then God is required to answer (as though man could require anything of God!). Thus, God’s ability to bless us supposedly hangs on our faith. James 4:13-16 clearly contradicts this teaching: “Now listen, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.’ Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” Far from speaking things into existence in the future, we do not even know what tomorrow will bring or even whether we will be alive.

Instead of stressing the importance of wealth, the Bible warns against pursuing it. Believers, especially leaders in the church (1 Timothy 3:3), are to be free from the love of money (Hebrews 13:5). The love of money leads to all kinds of evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Jesus warned, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). In sharp contrast to the Word of Faith emphasis on gaining money and possessions in this life, Jesus said, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal” (Matthew 6:19). The irreconcilable contradictions between prosperity teaching and the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ is best summed up in the words of Jesus in Matthew 6:24, “You cannot serve both God and money.”

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What these “Hirelings” mean when they say God wants to “bless” the faithful with earthly riches is that they are the ones to be “blessed” with money of those foolish enough to hand it over to them!

from MSN:

The ministry of a prominent Georgia megachurch pastor and evangelist who teaches that God wants to bless the faithful with earthly riches is seeking donations to buy a luxury jet valued at more than $65 million.

The website of Creflo Dollar Ministries asked people Friday to “Sow your love gift of any amount” to help the ministry buy a Gulfstream G650 airplane. Dollar and his wife, Taffi, are co-pastors of World Changers International Church in College Park, just south of Atlanta.

Dollar is one of the most prominent African-American preachers based around Atlanta who have built successful ministries on the prosperity gospel. Ministers in this tradition often hold up their own wealth as evidence that the teaching works.

The ministry’s current plane, acquired in 1999, was built in 1984, has traveled more than 4 million miles and is no longer safe, spokesman Juda Engelmayer said. On a recent trip overseas, one of the engines failed, but the pilot was able to land safely and no one was injured, the ministry’s website says.

“(W)e are asking members, partners, and supporters of this ministry to assist us in acquiring a Gulfstream G650 airplane so that Pastors Creflo and Taffi and World Changers Church International can continue to blanket the globe with the Gospel of grace,” the ministry’s website says.

Gulfstream’s website lists an asking price of $67,950,000 for a G650 with a flight record of 1,616 hours and 625 landings since it entered service in mid-December.

Members of the ministry travel for much of the year bringing their message, food and supplies to people around the world, Engelmayer said. They need a plane that’s fuel efficient, faster, with enough cargo capacity and enough seats, he said.

The G650 “flies at more than 92 percent of the speed of sound,” typically holds about 18 seated passengers and can take off with a maximum weight of 99,600, according to Gulfstream’s website.

Numerous online reports quoted the ministry website as saying: “We are believing for 200,000 people to give contributions of 300 US dollars or more to turn this dream into a reality.”

On Friday afternoon, that line was gone, and the website instead said: “Your love gift of any amount will be greatly appreciated.”

When asked about the change, Engelmayer replied in an email: “The ministry operates on the goodness of its followers and has always been a donor based organization. Every gift given is heartfelt and appreciated, and people who wish will give at the level comfortable to their situation and ability.”

Soon after that, the website’s entire page about the plane appeared disabled.

Dollar, who has five children, is a native of College Park and says he received a vision for the church in 1986. He held the first service in front of eight people in an elementary school cafeteria. His ministry grew quickly and the church moved into its current 8,500-seat sanctuary, on Dec. 24, 1995.

Dollar said in a 2007 interview with The Associated Press that he renounced his church salary, and his income comes only from personal investments, including a real estate business and horse breeding company called Dollar Ranch. He’s also published more than 30 books, focusing mostly on family and life issues, including debt management.

He said he can get up to $100,000 for a single appearance on his packed schedule of speaking engagements.

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 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits.” – Matthew 7:15-16

false teachers

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from Critical Issues Commentary:

by Bob DeWaay

 

Bill Johnson of Redding, California has become a popular teacher in one of the latest iterations of the Signs and Wonders movement. His book, When Heaven Invades Earth, reveals his underlying theology. Johnson believes that there will be a great end-time revival that will be initiated by an “Elijah generation”1 (a concept from the heretical Latter Rain movement) that shall transcend all other generations of Christians in regard to their ability to do great works of power. Johnson claims the following about himself and associates: “We will carry the Elijah anointing in preparing for the return of the Lord in the same way that John the Baptist carried the Elijah anointing and prepared the people for the coming of the Lord” (Johnson: 184).2 Supposedly these elitists will set off a great revival of signs and wonders greater than those of Jesus. This miracle explosion, they expect, will cause a great revival before the return of Christ. Johnson states, “I live for the revival that is unfolding and believe it will surpass all previous moves combined, bringing more than one billion souls into the Kingdom” (Johnson: 23).

The basic premise is that God always wants to do abundant and remarkable miracles but is kept from doing so by the fear and unbelief of the church. God awaits the arrival of specially anointed and enlightened Christians who will make it possible for Him to bring at long last an invasion of heaven to earth before the return of Christ. That is the point of Johnson’s title. His subtitle is A Practical Guide to a Life of Miracles. Accordingly, with the right information, zeal, desire, piety, faith and anointing, any Christian can “make the supernatural natural” (Johnson: 133).

In this article I will show from Johnson’s book that he has departed from orthodox Christian teaching in many serious ways. He teaches the heretical kenosis doctrine about Christ. He denies the Reformation principle of sola scriptura. He embraces pietism, elitism, subjectivism, fideism, dominion theology, and many other errors. I will claim that his supposed end-time revival is actually end-time apostasy.

How to Introduce Heresy

As I read Johnson’s book, I noted the various errors in it by category. At the end of the process the largest number of entries was under “anti-scholastic bias.” Johnson is firmly against careful scholarship based on sound exegesis of Scripture. To him, such study is likely to bring one into bondage and spiritual death. Sadly, this bias is widespread in current evangelicalism, but Johnson is quite blatant in his rejection of scholarship.

Johnson claims, “For decades the Church has been guilty of creating doctrine to justify their lack of power. . .” (Johnson: 116). It is hard to imagine what “problem” he is reacting to when most of our evangelical educational institutions are committed to postmodern mysticism, with their heroes being mystics like Dallas Willard and Richard Foster. It is hard to find a Bible college or seminary that does not promote “spiritual formation,” which is merely a fancy term for Roman Catholic mysticism. Yet Johnson decries the presence of doctrine. We will see later just how willing he is to depart from orthodox doctrine.

He resorts to an often misused passage that promotes his anti-scholastic bias: “A powerless Word is the letter not the Spirit. And we all know, ‘The letter kills, but the Spirit gives life'” (Johnson: 116). This twisting of Paul’s meaning in 2Corinthians 3:6 has a long history of use to promote subjectivism and mysticism. The false implication is that studying the Bible will kill you spiritually. The context shows that Paul was speaking of the letters written on stone (verse 3), meaning the Decalogue. Paul explains how the law “kills” in Romans 7:5, 6. It kills because of our sinful passions that it exposes, not because it is studied for what it means.3

For example, does “you shall not steal” have some secret, mystical meaning that can only be assessed by certain elite persons with subjective spiritual impressions, or does it mean what it says? It means what it says. But to truly live as a person who is free from the sin of stealing we need the grace of God that comes through the gospel. In 2Corinthians 3, Paul is speaking of those who have the Law but reject Christ. Bill Johnson is warning Christians that studying the Bible will kill them. In so doing he abuses the passage and lowers the value of Scripture in the minds of his readers.

Johnson warns against “a powerless Word.” The only way God’s Word lacks power is if we refuse to believe and obey it. Johnson suggests that he and others like him who refuse to be taught the truth but relish signs and wonders have “power.” The rest of us who love and believe God’s Word (from Scripture, understood according to the Holy Spirit inspired authors’ intent) are supposedly powerless. Johnson’s teaching is false and is abusive to the Lord’s flock. Ordinary Christians who cannot replicate the miracles of Jesus and His apostles are relegated to a lesser category: powerless Christians to be pitied by elitists like Johnson.

It is easy to see where Johnson is taking his attack against Christian scholarship:

Those who feel safe because of their intellectual grasp of Scriptures enjoy a false sense of security. None of us has a full grasp of Scripture, but we all have the Holy Spirit. He is our common denominator who will always lead us into truth. But to follow Him, we must be willing to follow off the map—to go beyond what we know. (Johnson: 76)

We will see in the next section just exactly where Johnson has gone “off the map” and where he wants to take us. The claim that we cannot know the Scripture but can know what the Holy Spirit is saying by other means is absurd. The Bible claims that Scripture is the Holy Spirit speaking to the church. The Holy Spirit inspired the Scriptures. We understand the Bible using our intellect.

Johnson’s approach is to use the person of the Holy Spirit as an excuse to reject scholarly Bible study in favor of undefined, subjective religious experiences. He further denigrates the Bible:

But in reality, the Bible is a closed book. Anything I get from the Word without God will not change my life. It is closed to insure that I remain dependent on the Holy Spirit. (Johnson: 93)

His categories are false. The Bible is the Holy Spirit speaking to us and its power is not dependant on us using religious experience to escape its boundaries. Any lack of life-changing power is due to unbelief, not the meaning of Scripture as correctly understood. But Johnson claims that the Holy Spirit leads us off the map. Thus he denigrates sola scriptura.

The absurdity of Johnson’s claim is such that it amazes me how many are deceived by it. For example, the claim that the Holy Spirit leads us into truth (which He does through Scripture) by some subjective means that go “off the map” and beyond an “intellectual approach” is disingenuous. Those who go off the map are going somewhere. If they have gotten information directly from the Spirit about where they think they should go and then follow it, they are using their intellect as well. The subjective information from the spirit realm must register in someone’s mind in order for them to act on it. So if the intellect is a bad thing when contemplating the Scriptures, why is it a good thing when determining which subjective impressions to follow? But Johnson warns, “The Church has all too often lived according to an intellectual approach to the Scriptures, void of the Holy Spirit’s influence.” This false dilemma (i.e., either intellect or Spirit) fools his readers into thinking that if they attend hyped up meetings such as Johnson promotes, the Spirit is at work; whereas if they were to carefully study God’s once-for-all revealed Word they would be stuck in a “powerless” situation (Johnson: 76).

By discounting careful Bible study, scholarship, and using one’s mind Johnson disarms his readers to the point that they are susceptible to heresies such as those he teaches. For example, “Reaction to error usually produces error” (Johnson: 51). If this is true, why did Paul write Galatians, Colossians, and other of his epistles to correct error? Johnson brags that he doesn’t read any books of people who disagree with his version of revivalism. He consistently downplays or rejects the value of scholarly study. He says: “It’s in the environment of worship that we learn things that go way beyond what our intellect can grasp” (Johnson: 44). That statement reminds me of one I read from a New Ager who suggested we contemplate “the sound of one hand clapping.” How do we learn things but they never register on our minds? Probably by subjective, religious feelings that remain undefined. By such feelings people like the Dalai Lama feel close to God. But are they? . . . . . . .

 

read the full article here.

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This is the “ROTTEN FRUIT” of TBN, Daystar  . . . .

I saw it a few years ago when I was in South Africa

from A Letter from Kabwata:

We all know that the dark ages are upon us again here in Africa. It is almost like a dark blanket that is slowly surrounding the land. People who know absolutely nothing of the core values of evangelical Christianity—the new birth, repentance and saving faith, justification and holiness, etc.—have hijacked evangelical Christianity in Africa. Even the term “born again” is being peddled without an iota of the meaning that Jesus had in mind when he used the phrase in his talk with Nicodemus. These are dark days indeed.

Once upon a time in Zambia, in the 1970s and early 1980s, you could go to very much any English-speaking evangelical church on Sunday and expect to attend a Bible study and hear faithful preaching of God’s word. You may have been a little uncomfortable with some aspects of their worship. You may have also disagreed with some doctrinal assumptions during the preaching. However, you could not miss the fact that here was a sincere effort at arriving at the meaning of the text of Scripture and applying it to the hearers—both in the Bible studies and the sermons. You also heard an appeal for repentance towards God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. They may not have dotted your “i”s and crossed your “t”s as you do, but you still went home edified.

That is now very rare. In most so-called evangelical churches in Zambia today, there are no Bible studies and you cannot last to the end of their worship service if what you went for was spiritual edification. How many of our people are being drawn to churches primarily because they have been falsely promised to be cured of AIDS, get promotion at work, get more money, etc.? How many of our people are giving stashes of cash to so-called servants of God who are in fact nothing more than religious fraudsters? How many of our people now think that worship is dancing to very loud music that competes favourably with the rhumba maestros of the Congo? How many of our preachers think that preaching is shouting nice sounding platitudes through a microphone at the top of their voice with an American or Nigerian accent? This is what church has become.

I liken this delusion to the days prior to the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century. People flooded the churches but it was all for the wrong reasons. They were deceived and spellbound by a priest craft that claimed abilities they did not have but which the people craved after. Superstition reigned supreme in the church. The people were poor but they were promised various blessings if they could only give their remaining money to the church. Out of these funds majestic church edifices were built and the church’s top leadership lived like kings and princes. Is this not what is happening in the name of evangelical Christianity today? Or am I the only one who is seeing these things?

The result of all this is that we have “Protestant” churches on literally every street but the evangelical faith is totally absent. In fact these churches have become dens of iniquity. Church pastors are impregnating young girls in their churches, getting them to abort, agreeing with their parents not to spill the beans for some undisclosed huge amounts of hush-money, and their spouses and church leaders know about all this. As the pulpit has gone, so has gone the pew. Hardly anyone is thirsting and hungering after righteousness. Immoral living is rife. Church discipline is rare. Those who know about this rottenness are looking at the church from outside and pinching their nostrils in disgust. We have the numbers alright but the salt has lost its saltiness—and we know it.

Come on; let us be honest. We all know that the so-called prosperity gospel, which is in vogue in evangelicalism today, is heresy. We all know that the only guys becoming stinking rich are the preachers to whom the blind followers are giving their money. The followers themselves are still in abject poverty. It is nothing but religious fraud. We also all know that 99% of the claims to physical healing by our faith healers are false. We all have relatives who would be alive today if they had not been told they were cured and so should not take medication for their sickness. These men are murderers. This is not Conrad Mbewe being malicious and making up stories. These are all well-known facts.

The tragedy is not that all this is happening. The disaster is the silence about all this from those who are supposed to provide spiritual guidance to the masses. In Zambia, and in Africa at large, evangelical leaders who have worked their way up the ecclesiastical ladder are holding hands with religious fraudsters and thus they cannot speak about this engulfing evil. They would rather throw stones at political leaders out there than address the Trojan horse within evangelicalism. They would rather tell the world to stop being worldly than tell those who are raping the church from within to stop it. And yet in the light of this spiritual tsunami, the silence is criminal.

The problem with this current silence is that the younger generation who are coming into evangelical circles now think that what they are seeing is a viable and alternative form of evangelical Christianity when it is not. They have no clue that only recently believers got together in church for serious Bible study, that worship had dignity and awe, and that sermons were Bible-based, Christ-centred, and aimed at spiritual conversion. Due to our silence, our upcoming preachers are seeing filling your church membership roll with goats rather than sheep and driving expensive cars at the expense of poor parishioners as the sign of pastoral success. They have no clue that it was only recently when pastors stood out in society for their true godly servanthood. Today’s evangelical leaders are misleading a whole generation of innocent souls by their silence.

In the days of the prophet Malachi, religion in Israel had reached its lowest ebb. The Temple was still full of activity—with all kinds of sacrifices being offered at the altar. Yet, the true worship of God was dying. Those who came to the place of worship were defrauding God and the priests were allowing this. Men were unfaithful to their wives and divorcing at will, and the priests kept quiet about it. God finally put the blame where it ought to have been—at the feet of the priests. He said, “The lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts. But you have turned aside from the way” (Malachi 2:7-8). God finally wanted them to just shut the Temple doors and send everyone away! Their silence misrepresented him. They did not care that his greatness was obscured.

Once upon a time, a generation of God’s people saw spiritual decay and said, “Enough is enough!” and out of this protest was born the Protestant Reformation. In yet another generation, when liberalism had invaded the Protestant church and was killing its very life, a generation of God’s people again said, “Enough is enough!” and out of that protest was born the Evangelical movement of the 18th century. In the light of the darkness that is once again upon us, with churches becoming no more than witchdoctors’ dens, is it not time for today’s evangelicals to say, “Enough is enough”? How can we be silent in the light of this engulfing darkness? Surely, our evangelical silence must be criminal.

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An excellent article from The Armoury:

Any young man going into the ministry must understand that he must be prepared to address a flock that is, in this present day, influenced by a pantheon of teachers – many of whom they have never met. By itself, this isn’t a bad thing – especially if those teachers are: a). called of God; b). preaching the Gospel; c). exalting Christ and not themselves; d). upholding the authority of Scripture rather than invented doctrines of their own; e). heralding the priority of the local church; and f). ministering the word with a spirit that is devoid of a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes.

In a perfect world, such an external influence would be…perfect.

However, we don’t live in a perfect world. Pastors aren’t perfect; churches aren’t perfect; published books by men and their publishers aren’t perfect. Thus, we find a constant battle within the church to pursue God’s perfect word amidst all such imperfections. For the pastor of a local church, this battle is, firstly, internal and then it is external. It is internal in the sense that, as a preacher, the pastor must endeavor to seek out the preaching of God’s Word without the pollution of his own opinions and preferences. By itself, this is a strong and continual battle. It is external in the sense that there is a constant influence of teachers whose teaching is not at all helpful, whether wholly or partially. Sometimes those problematic influences are absolutely heretical; in most cases they are problematic on a lesser scale – but it is all part of the battle nonetheless. What intensifies this battle is what I would call the industry of Christian media. By this label I am referring to the exploding industry of Christian video, audio, books, conferences, and web-media – a great deal of which is presented with all of the fanfare of modern marketing techniques and salesmanship. It is this perpetual marketing of Christian media that has created a cultural psyche of  keeping up with the Joneses – but with a Christian twist. However, the rule of life and conduct for the Christian is not to keep up with the Joneses per se. Our benchmark is not horizontally defined, but is defined by Christ and His Word – no matter what the Joneses are doing. In the secular realm you can see whole neighborhoods following such a pattern of conformity. One neighbor buys a 60” flat panel TV – the other neighbors see it, want it, come to conclude that they need itand buy one themselves, whether they can afford it or not. Unfortunately, such choices can be dictated by jealousy or materialism (or both) rather than wisdom.

When Christians make spiritual choices, in this manner of keeping up with the masses, it can be quite dangerous. Doing what one’s friends or neighbors are doing is never a justification for doing anything. In this present culture of retail Christianity, I fear that many are determining orthodoxy by what is deemed as vogue among the masses; but this can never be the means by which we evaluate anything. In the worst of all cases, people can come to feel that without that next popular book, conference, or webinar – their sanctification will somehow be incomplete. Though the retail earnings may be good, a spirit of dependency such as this is dangerous since it diminishes the primacy of Scripture and that of the local church. In writing this, I am not at all suggesting that all books, conferences, videos, webinars etc. are inherently bad. There are many profitable resources out there that can be utilized for the glory of God. However, it must also be pointed out that there are many well-marketed resources that are deeply problematic. What is needed is for the believer to be dedicated to Christ with the nobility of those Bereans who “received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily” in order to see if what the Apostle Paul taught was in fact true. It is this attitude which says – “I must measure everything by the standard of God’s Word, not by the standard of my neighbors, social popularity, or any mere man” – that Luke calls: “noble minded.” Had these Bereans simply kept up with the popular thinking of their day, they would have gone the way of the Pharisees.

May it never be.

Finally – as a final application of this encouragement and warning, let me suggest the following (and I offer this, not under the presumption that you are not doing so, but as an encouragement to “excel still more” in these principles): the next time you hear an online sermon, read a book, attend a conference, or watch a webinar – 1). Be sure that you measure the contents of what you have been exposed to by the standards of God’s word, not by the habits and preferences of your friend or neighbors; 2). If you are unsure about what you have studied, go and consult the undershepherds of your local church – men whose lives,ministries, homes, and conduct you can see and experience personally; and 3). Throughout everything, pray without ceasing for the Lord’s guidance and leading, as you sort through it all, knowing that it is the Lord whom we serve – not men. There are many in this world who seek to instruct you – just be on guard for your souls as you listen and learn – knowing that it is Christ whom you serve.

As Christian said to those retailers in Vanity Fair: “We buy the truth.” Prov. 23:23.

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Matthew 24:5, 23-25:

For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it.  For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand.

from CNN:

Famed pastor Joel Osteen reiterated his position that Mitt Romney is a Christian on Tuesday, saying as long as the likely GOP presidential nominee believes that Jesus is the Son of God then he subscribes to the Christian faith.

“When I hear Mitt Romney say that he believes that Jesus is the Son of God–that he’s the Christ, raised from the dead, that he’s his Savior–that’s good enough for me,” Osteen said in an interview to air on CNN’s “The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer.”

While Osteen described the Mormon faith as “not traditional Christianity,” he said he believes Mormons fall under the Christian tent.

“Mormonism is a little different, but I still see them as brothers in Christ,” the pastor argued.

Romney’s faith has largely remained an outlier in this presidential cycle, though some have expressed skepticism at the likely Republican nominee’s religious views

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